At What Age Does a Citrus Tree Start to Produce Fruit?


Having a citrus tree in your yard can be a boost not only to the landscape but to your diet. This gives you quick-and-easy access to healthy, fresh fruit. When you first plant your citrus tree, you may want the fruit to appear immediately, but citrus trees need time to fully mature before bearing fruit. The rate of maturity depends upon whether or not the tree was grown from a seed or purchased from a nursery. Several other factors contribute to the age at which the tree bears fruit.

Nursery Purchases

  • When citrus trees, or other fruit-bearing trees, are purchased from a nursery, they usually range between 1 to 2 years old. The nursery selling the trees has already taken care of the initial growth for the tree, leaving consumers to plant them in their yards or within large pots. From the time you plant your fruit tree, it may take between 1 to 2 years for the tree to begin bearing fruit. This means that the tree produces fruit at about age 2 or 3. Some nursery-purchased citrus trees take a little longer to produce fruit. Generally, citrus trees mature at age 3 to 5, when they begin to bear fruit.


  • If your citrus tree grew out of a seed, rather than as a result of a nursery purchase, the fruit bearing age differs. According to Texas A&M Aggie Horticulture, seedling trees can take many more years to bear fruit than budded trees purchased from nurseries. Seedling trees often bear no fruit at all. If they do, the fruit may be overly seedy and not as tasty as fruit produced by nursery-purchased trees. Triple Oaks Nursery and Herb Garden notes that some seedling lemon trees take up to 15 years from planting time to produce fruit.

Slow Fruiting

  • Sometimes, your tree reaches fruiting age, but nothing is produced. It can be frustrating, but there may not be anything particularly wrong with your tree. According to Washington State University Extension, trees that grow at a steady pace bear fruit earlier than trees that grow too quickly or too slowly. If your tree has grown quickly or trots along at a slow growth pace, fruit may show up later than the 3- to 5-year average fruiting age. Additionally, trees in poor health have a harder time producing fruit, leading to slower fruiting times, low-quality fruit or sometimes no fruit at all.

Proper Care

  • To ensure that your citrus tree fruits at the time it’s meant to, you will need to care for it diligently. Citrus trees need nutrient-rich fertilizer, particularly those with lots of nitrogen. Protecting your citrus tree from cold, frost and wind during its early years also helps it produce fruit at the proper age. You may have to bud your citrus tree onto a rootstock so that it can grow well, as citrus tree root systems may not hold up as well in a variety of soil types. If your citrus tree still doesn’t fruit after caring for it, contact your nursery to see about potential problems.

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